I’m generally not a fan of beers brewed with added flavors — i.e. strawberry, jalapeno, pumpkin… bacon, godforbid. Give me the hops and the malts and leave well enough alone, you know? If I’m eating a steak, I don’t want it slathered in A1 sauce. If I’m buying a t-shirt, I’m not buying the one with the big effing BRAND NAME slapped across the left chest.
(And actually, I’m probably not buying any shirt anyway. I really don’t shop. Ever. Also, I’m not a girl. I’m Robbie. I like Pearl Jam, Bell’s, tight pants and the author of this blog. Nice to meet you. Moving on…)
Rogue, on the other hand, does this whole flavored beer thing pretty well. Take the Chocolate Stout, for instance. Now that’s a beer, for guys and girls. Creamy and dark as asphalt, you could give this to a 4-year-old and he’d call it chocolate milk.
And then he’d pass out.
I shared this beer last weekend from a 22-ounce bomber and, let me tell you, it is dangerously drinkable at 6% ABV. Smooth, medium bodied, like your making out with a cocoa bean, it is by far the most chocolately “dessert” beer I’ve come across – even more so than Young’s Double Chocolate Stout (hey, and it’s cheaper!). Drink it for dinner. Put in your cereal.
Okay, so now that the Chocolate Stout has hijacked this review, let me briefly tell you about another of Rogue’s awesome flavored beers (and yes, I realize hops are technically an added flavor. You snob).
Hazelnut Brown Nectar is quite clearly the product of rowdy Great Northwesterners, their coffeehouse culture, alcohol, and a particularly boring long weekend. Hey dude, what if we made these Eight O’Clock beans into a beer? How sweet would that be?
Really, really sweet. Like pucker your mouth sweet. I don’t know if that was the actual thought process behind this glorious glass of malty goodness, but whatever the eureka moment, this beer is a winner. It’s a brown ale that’s not too bitter (Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale), or boring (Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale) or strong (Dogfish Head India Brown Ale, not that I object).
The malt flavors creep up first before - thwack - a wave of hazelnut flavor roles over your palette, leaving just a bit of bitter aftertaste. If there’s a weakness here, and there is, it’s in the slightly watery mouthfeel. Think Turbodog. Still, it’s deliciously drinkable and deceptively strong (6.2% ABV).
The Hazelnut Brown Nectar is a surefire “couple’s beer” – that is, you can drink it with your girlfriend or boyfriend without either party betraying their gender. In this sense, it beats the hell out of Abita Strawberry Lager, which I was forced to drink last week and tastes of vom (okay, that’s too harsh, but I felt like I was wearing a skirt). If you get the chance to tilt this one back with your significant other, and you’re in the Miami area (the window’s really closing here, huh?), may I suggest you seek out the University of Miami’s Wetlab — a little hideout tucked away in The U’s marine biology campus. You can drink these bad boys for $3 a pop, and the view (of Biscayne Bay) and company (cool enough to know this place exists) is hard to top.